I am a student thus hardly get time to go on tours or hiking! In an average I cycle around 6-10 km per day but in holiday times I go for a trip around the city on my MTB for around 100km ride and trying my best to decrease the time required.

However I rode for 200km recently and I am worried about any chance of physical damage for going on long tours without regular practice? Are there any restrictions on total hours or distance of continuous cycling?

N.B: I am having a pull in my Achilles Tendon and it hurts!

  • 2
    Without proper training you risk an injury, as you start to see. Youth may be forgiving with you, though.
    – gaurwraith
    Sep 19, 2016 at 17:25
  • i am concerned about the health issue brother and i wear safety gears plus tours in group ! Sep 19, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    You can have injury to your knees in particular if you have not "built up" to the distance/duration, but this hazard can be minimized with good bike fit (and a modicum of caution against "pushing" yourself, especially late in a ride). A bigger hazard is "bonking", where your body becomes metabolically exhausted. This can literally cause you to fall off the bike (or absent-mindedly turn into traffic), plus it can cause actual muscle injury. However, when I was younger and stupider I did a few 100 mile days (with no "support" and little rest) and survived. Sep 19, 2016 at 17:34
  • 1
    Grade comes into it too - I can do a 150 km flat ride or a 70 km with 2000 metres of vertical. I'm sure I could do 400 km of downhill :)
    – Criggie
    Sep 19, 2016 at 20:20
  • As for the heel injury, change/alter things (your socks, shoes, pedal stroke, etc) and if it doesn't improve then see a doctor or sports physio.
    – Criggie
    Sep 19, 2016 at 20:21

2 Answers 2


As to your initial question, there are no hard, general limits.

Listen to your body and don't push yourself if anything starts hurting. If something (like your Achilles tendon) hurts only afterwards, that's also a clear sign you overdid it and you should note what you did so you can go a little easier next time. Of course also wait with your next tour until nothing hurts anymore.

The issue when your whole body is really exhausted as Daniel says should only arise when you overdo it a lot and/or don't eat/drink enough. In my own experience, you will notice that you feel stupid and very simple things like going through a roundabout and taking the right exit will suddenly seem as difficult as a math problem and eventually (not in my own experience, luckily) you will faint. As long as you are looking out for the signs of this, really I don't think anything bad should happen. Just don't push yourself too much. If you reach this exhausted state, you might feel pretty bad (in a general way, tired, mostly) for several days.

Some proper high-calorie sports drink should help to keep your body running if you don't eat enough, but there is a limit (raised by training) on how much your body can metabolize so sooner or later you'll still run into the above issue.

The question was edited to make the question more about how to raise said limits. I don't actually have a lot to say about this. It will go up by itself the more you train, it's as simple as that. Regularly go to your limits, but not beyond them (or not too far). You will improve.

Personally my way to do this is to just use your bike for all the travelling where it's at all possible. Commute all year round. Visit a friend or parent 50km away? Maybe you can go by bike (and use their shower). Need groceries? Go by bike.

  • 2
    The "pretty bad for several days" feeling is due to ketosis, when the body flat runs out of stored "sugar" to burn and begins burning fat (more or less) directly. You may think "Great! I'll lose some weight!", but the resulting ketones (at the level we're talking about) have toxic effect on the body and you really feel like shit. Sep 19, 2016 at 21:42

There are two main theories of training for endurance.

The first can be characterized as

build a good base of endurance fitness, then do strength and speed work.

The problem many have with that is that the first part, build a good base of endurance fitness, requires long hours in the saddle (sometimes called slow distance rides, or LSD).

The other way is championed by books (and many websites). The most famous book is

The Time-Crunched Cyclist, 2nd Ed.: Fit, Fast, Powerful in 6 Hours a Week Book by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg.

This approach can be described (in a very simplified way) as using repeated, short, high intensity training sessions to get rapid training results.

While this second approach seems to be the answer to your question, when you mention time constraints, I have two observations to make

  • such high intensity training is, IMO, intended for cyclists who already have a pretty good base level of cycling strength and fitness.
  • you have already developed an injury.

So, I think this high intensity approach is not for you yet.

Just ride, as much as possible. Don't aim for speed, aim for hours in the saddle. Rides of two hours would be ideal, but I understand that may not easily fit your life style. IMO, this comes down to choices.

You may have heard "if you want something to improve then measure it". So keep a training log. Keep track of hours on the bike and distance (per week). And days per week you rode. You should see your hours increasing, and the distance increasing faster - your average speed will get higher.

Don't worry about blips in the graph, it's the overall trend that's important. Besides, a slack week every now and again will help keep you fresh and motivated. One way of keeping this log is to automate it by using an app such as Strava, Map My Ride, Endomondo, etc.

Be creative to add a few little detours to your normal routes, to add interest and distance. Gradually build the distances, and also a repertoire of rides that you can choose from. Occasionally exploring a completely new route can be fun. Such a ride would often be a slower pace; you shouldn't be riding flat out all the time, or even most of the time in this phase.

Finding a buddy to ride with can help with all this also.

After some months of this approach, you should have a pretty good level of cycling fitness. Then you can mix in some longer, harder rides, and short high intensity work. Make sure you warm up and cool down properly for these, and check out the many websites and books (including the one above) about interval training.

Enjoy. Look after that injury before doing anything else.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.